In addition to providing the utilities information about the state of their electric grids, the smart grid transition will enable customers to understand and manage their energy use, and will provide for integration of renewable energy resources, the company said.

Supplementing the DOE grant, Progress Energy’s two utilities will invest more than $300m in smart grid projects. The total investment is expected to create up to 500 jobs. The utilities have already begun structuring their workforces to support the transition to a smart grid.

In the Carolinas, the multi-phase smart grid investment will include enhanced capabilities to drive fewer and shorter power outages for customers. In Florida, a residential load control upgrade will make equipment compatible with future smart grid technologies.

Through its EnergyWise program in both the Carolinas and Florida, Progress Energy’s utilities already manage about 400,000 of their customers’ energy use during times of high energy demand. In an expansion of the EnergyWise program, Progress Energy’s utilities will install 160,000 smart meters, capable of two-way communication.

Progress Energy’s utilities will also invest in additional public infrastructure for plug-in electric vehicles. The company is a utility partner in several electric transportation grants awarded by the federal government in 2009.

Through its research and development partnerships with automotive manufacturers and other energy companies, Progress Energy currently operates a fleet of 10 plug-in EVs in the Carolinas and Florida.

The Electric Power Research Institute estimates that the nationwide implementation of smart grid technologies could reduce electricity consumption by more than 4% by 2030, representing a savings of more than $20bn for American businesses and consumers.